The Wright County Sheriff’s Office, together with the Wright County Attorney’s Office and members of the Wright County chapter of the “Toward Zero Deaths” campaign released the following message to both students and parents as spring arrives:
Distracted driving is quickly rising to become a leading factor for local crashes, and the Wright County Sheriff’s Office is urging Wright County motorists to pay attention behind the wheel.
Deputies are highlighting the issue during the prom and graduation seasons — in the last three years distracted teen drivers were involved in crashes that resulted in 25 deaths and 4,505 injuries.
Driver distraction is a leading crash factor in Minnesota, accounting for around 20 percent of all crashes annually,
resulting in at least 70 deaths and 350 injuries, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) Office of Traffic Safety.
In Minnesota, it is illegal for drivers to read, compose or send texts/emails, and access the Web on a wireless device while the vehicle is in motion or a part of traffic, such as at a stoplight or stuck in traffic. It is also illegal for drivers under age 18 to use a cell phone at any time.
Distractions cause drivers to react more slowly to traffic conditions or events, such as a vehicle stopping or pulling out in traffic. A University of Utah study reports that using a cell phone while driving, whether hands-free or hand-held, delays a driver’s reactions as much as having an alcohol-concentration level of 0.08 percent (the legal limit in Minnesota). And when texting, drivers take their eyes off the road for up to 4.6 out of every 6 seconds — equivalent to traveling the length of a football field at 55 mph without looking up.
Tips to minimize distractions:
Hang Up and Drive
• Turn off cell phone, or place it out of reach.
• If on a phone conversation with someone driving, ask them to call you back.
• Texting, emailing and Web use while driving is illegal in Minnesota —
• including when stopped in traffic.
• Drivers under age 18 are prohibited from any cell phone use.
• Speak up to stop drivers from engaging in distracted behaviors.
• Assist with phone, directions and radio/music controls.
• Map out and study directions before your trip.
• Teach children the importance of good behavior in a vehicle.
Distracted driving education is a component Minnesota’s core traffic safety initiative, Toward Zero Deaths (TZD). A
primary vision of the TZD program is to create a safe driving culture in Minnesota in which motorists support a goal of zero road fatalities by practicing and promoting safe and smart driving behavior. TZD focuses on the application of four strategic areas to reduce crashes — education, enforcement, engineering and emergency trauma response.